What Counts as Criminal Forgery in Texas?
Nearly every schoolchild has, at some point, technically committed forgery. Signing a parent’s signature on a report card, permission slip, or other release form is a common mistake and children who are caught have a valuable learning experience without serious consequences. But when an adult in Texas commits the crime of forgery, the penalties can be serious and the offender risks damaging his or her criminal record, personal freedom, and reputation. To learn more about what constitutes criminal forgery in Texas and what the penalties are, read on.
What is Forgery?
Forgery is a “white-collar crime,” so called because it is a nonviolent, financially motivated law-breaking activity. When someone deceptively signs someone else’s name, changes information, or gives false information in writing with the intent to defraud or harm others for his or her own benefit, this is considered criminal forgery. Texas law requires one of three things to be present for writing to rise to the level of forgery:
- The writing appears to be the act of someone who did not authorize that act
- The writing was made to look as if it happened in a time, place, or order in which it did not actually occur, or
- The writing is claimed to be a copy of an original that never existed
Writing includes handwritten items like a forged signature, as well as printing, recorded information, money, credit cards, or similar financial instruments, or other symbols of value or identification, such as a fake ID card.
What is the Punishment in Texas for Criminal Forgery?
While people who perpetrate fraud may feel as though it is a victimless crime, in reality billions of dollars are lost every year by individuals who suffer the consequences of forgery and other financially fraudulent behaviors. Accordingly, the punishments for forgery in Texas can be very harsh.
The lightest charge for criminal forgery is a Class A misdemeanor, the most serious of misdemeanors in Texas. Class A misdemeanors allow up to a year in jail and up to $4,000 in fines. However, certain factors can make forgery a felony charge, with much more serious penalties. If the forgery is of a government document, like a driver’s license, the forgery is a third-degree felony and allows punishment of two to 10 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines. If the victim of the forgery is someone age 65 or older, the penalties can be increased further.
An experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to help you show that the alleged forgery was an accident or that someone else committed the forgery. Additionally, you may be able to show that you did not intend to defraud someone else or commit harm. An attorney who is familiar with your case can help you defend your constitutional right to due process and give you the best chance of beating the charges.
Consult with a Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you have been charged with forgery, it is important to take these charges seriously and understand the potential punishments you may face. With the help of an experienced Collin County criminal defense attorney, you can build a strong defense and increase your chances of getting your charges decreased or dropped altogether. Call The Crowder Law Firm, P.C. today at 214-303-9600 to schedule your free consultation.